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DAIRY EVENT - Shadow Secretary Speaks on TB and Dairy Industry

18 September 2009

UK - A Conservative Government would introduce an effective bTB policy and work with the dairy industry to improve competitiveness, writes TheCattleSite, Junior Editor, Charlotte Johnston.

Speaking yesterday at the Dairy Event, Nick Herbert, Shadow Secretary of the State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that the current government is "fudging" the issues surrounding bovine tuberculosis (bTB) claiming that the current situation is unacceptable.

Mr Herbert believed that the government were becoming increasingly isolated in opposing a cull, as veterinary groups and farming unions are demanding urgent action.

He said that a 'proper' bTB policy needed to be in place and that himself and his colleague Jim Paice, Shadow Minister of Agriculture, will shortly be assessing the situations regarding eradicating bTB in Wales and Ireland, to determine the effectiveness of carrying out a targeted cull in England.

"Politics is about making tough decisions, with bTB infecting increasing amounts of cattle there is a health and welfare issue to address immediately".

Speaking about the struggling dairy industry, Mr Herbert did not believe that subsidising the industry would help solve the problems but instead the government needed to play an active role in allowing the industry to be successful. He commented that a number of regulatory burdens were making it harder for UK farmers to compete in an open market.

Intervention is yesterdays policy, now the industry must focus on improving conditions to allow it to successfully compete on world markets.

With recent figures seeing an decline in milk production and the number of dairy farms, Mr Herbert stressed that this was a rising concern. Stating that the current government does not care for food origins, Mr Herbert said that his party would focus on supporting a successful and viable dairy industry, where food origin matters.

When questioned regarding the role non-regulated supermarkets play in reducing producers competitiveness and whether there would be scope for intervention, Mr Herbert said that he was aware producers as well as consumers are let down through excessive powers and that he was prepared to work with the industry and these powers to see a fair balance in the chain.

Finally speaking about the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) come 2013, Mr Herbert commented that he did not believe it would last for ever but he supported a fair playing field. There would, in the future, be the necessity for some form of a subsidy but that it would become increasingly linked to public goods for example through environmental schemes.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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